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Kobe Bryant does not want to convince Dwight Howard to stay with Lakers

Dwight Howard Kobe BryantKobe Bryant has made it clear that he wants free agent Dwight Howard back with the Los Angeles Lakers, but there is only so far he will go in an effort to sell the big man on sticking with the team.

In an interview with Lakers.com, Bryant explained what he makes Howard so good.

“I think his talent level, his defensive prowess. We saw what he could do at the end of the year when we all started clicking … I think that makes him extremely, extremely valuable,” Bryant told the Lakers’ website.

Though Bryant wants Howard back, he says it is important for Howard to want to sign with the Lakers.

“It has to be his decision,” Bryant told reporter Mike Trudell. “The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here. If you have to convince them when challenges or adversity comes up next season, it’s very easy to say, ‘Well they had to convince me to be here anyway, I really didn’t want to be here, I’d rather be (somewhere else) but they sold me on it.’

“You want it to be his decision. When it’s something that’s rooted inside of him, it’s something he champions. I just want to be there to assist his decision.”

[Related: Lakers get desperate in effort to convince Dwight Howard to stay]

Bryant called the Lakers a “class organization” and compared the franchise to the Yankees.

“This is the best as it gets.”

The question is: does Dwight Howard feel the same way? Howard was set to meet with the Houston Rockets on Sunday night as free agency began. He might not think the Lakers provide the best situation for him, which is probably why Bryant would be hesitant to push him into a situation he does not want. Howard is expected to announce his decision on July 10.

Report: Dwight Howard dislikes Mike D’Antoni’s system, skeptical about Lakers

Kobe Bryant Dwight HowardDwight Howard will become a free agent on July 1, and recent reports have indicated that he is unlikely to re-sign with the Lakers. Multiple theories have been shared to explain why Howard is not enthralled with the Lakers.

There have been reports that Howard is not a fan of the way coach Mike D’Antoni used him last season. There was a report (that was pulled by the publisher) saying Howard finds Lakers fans demanding and unappreciative. There is speculation that Howard does not feel like he can be the star of the team as long as Kobe Bryant is around. Now Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is adding a few more theories.

Here is what Wojnarowski reports:

Two of the biggest hurdles facing the Lakers’ ability to re-sign Howard remain his disdain for coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and a belief that the Lakers not only aren’t a championship contender as constructed, but lack the assets and financial flexibility to become one in the near future, sources told Y! Sports.

Woj also says that Howard plans to meet with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden State Warriors, in addition to the Lakers. According to the report, Howard wants to go to the best team, and he believes the Rockets are the only team that would instantly be a championship contender.

[Related: Dwight Howard reportedly frustrated with Mike D’Antoni]

The Lakers can offer Howard five years and $117 million, which is a year and $30 million more than any other team can pay the center. There is no state income tax in Texas, which gives the Rockets an advantage over other suitors. Plus, the team’s popularity in China thanks to Yao Ming — could lead to lucrative sponsorships and promotional opportunities for Howard, per Woj.

Wojnarowski paints a pretty strong case for the Rockets, whom he calls the frontrunners, to end up with Howard. However, keep in mind that Woj incorrectly reported around this time three years ago that LeBron James would be staying in Cleveland, which was the last time there was a free agent this big. Plus, Howard is so indecisive, he is fully capable of changing his mind five times over the next five days. But, for now, it looks like the Rockets are the favorites for Dwight, which is something that has been known since last month.

Lakers get desperate in effort to convince Dwight Howard to stay

Dwight Howard LakersThe Lakers are getting especially desperate in their effort to convince Dwight Howard to stay in Los Angeles instead of signing with another team as a free agent.

On Wednesday, the team began tweeting about the billboard campaign they launched around the city to show Howard how much he is wanted. They even started a hashtag “#STAYD12″ to get fans to show their love to the center.

[Photos: Lakers put up billboards asking Dwight Howard to stay]

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said of the billboards, “We put them up. We care about him & would like him to stay.”

The Lakers continued their full-court press of Howard by sending out two STAYD12-related items from their Twitter account on Friday. The first showed a giant Howard Lakers jersey draped down the side of the illustrious Beverly Hills Hotel:

No, that’s not actually a billboard on the side of the hotel. A hotel rep told Larry Brown Sports that it must have been a photoshopped picture because there aren’t any Lakers-related images/billboards/paintings on the hotel. However, Howard’s love of Beverly Hills is well known, so putting his jersey on one of the city’s landmarks would probably appeal to him.

The team also sent out this Kobe Bryant quote about Dwight:

[Read more...]

Los Angeles Lakers reportedly have ‘little chance’ of re-signing Dwight Howard

Dwight-Howard-LakersDwight Howard is ready to explore his options as the official start of free agency creeps nearer, but many feel he will ultimately be back with the Los Angeles Lakers next season. Money matters to most people, and the Lakers can offer Howard $30 million more than any other team. However, LA’s chances appear to be looking more bleak by the day.

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Howard is “unlikely” to re-sign with the Lakers at this point. The front-runners are believed to be the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets, with Broussard describing LA as having “little chance” to bring back the big man.

Why is Howard so against returning to the Lakers? As you probably could have guessed, Howard is believed to have an issue with head coach Mike D’Antoni and his system. Howard was reportedly frustrated with D’Antoni after the season for not allowing him to be more a more vocal leader, but apparently he disagrees with him when it comes to X’s and O’s as well.

As Phil Jackson alluded to after the season, D’Antoni is not exactly adept at properly utilizing big bodies in the post. He runs more of a guard-heavy system and was criticized for the way he used Howard and Pau Gasol throughout the season, even hearing it from Kobe Bryant at one point. The idea was that D’Antoni would find success with Steve Nash running the point, but Nash’s health complicated matters.

By all indications, the Lakers are committed to D’Antoni. They did not hire him with the intention of giving him a one-year trial. The Lakers also showed us with these billboards on Monday that they are committed to trying to bring Howard back, and Kobe has made it clear that he wants that to happen as well. From the sound of it, the team had better come up with an incredibly strong pitch.

Los Angeles Lakers put up billboards asking Dwight Howard to stay

Dwight-Howard-stay-billboard-1

The Los Angeles Lakers need Dwight Howard to stay with the team so they can be competitive next year, and they have decided to pull out all the stops to get their message across. On Wednesday, the Lakers’ official Twitter account introduced their newest campaign to beg Howard to stay, which includes billboards around the LA area.

The massive billboard you see above is currently displayed on the side of the Staples Center, but the team didn’t stop there. There is also a sign that folks driving down Hollywood Blvd. may have noticed:

[Read more...]

Kobe Bryant to Lakers: You have to lock up Dwight Howard

Kobe Bryant Dwight HowardKobe Bryant and Dwight Howard may have had a contentious relationship during the regular season, but make no mistake about it: Kobe understands the importance of Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.

During an interview with 710/ESPN Radio LA on Wednesday, Bryant was asked if he has talked to Howard about free agency. Bryant said he had, and then he explained why it is imperative for the Lakers to bring back Howard, who will be a free agent this summer.

“It’s not like you have guys like Dwight Howard walking around every day,” Bryant told hosts John Ireland and Mike Trudell. “Those guys are hard to find. They don’t grow on trees. I think when you have somebody like that with his talent level, you have to be able keep him and lock him in with this franchise.”

The Lakers have had some of the best centers in history play for the franchise. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal have all worn the purple and gold. Bryant believes Howard would be the next great center in the franchise’s lineage.

“The history this franchise has with having great centers, in my opinion, this would be a great spot for him,” said Bryant.

[Related: Mitch Kupchak: Dwight Howard will have statue someday]

Kobe said earlier this month that he would let Howard shop around and explore the free agency process. He said that he just wanted the last word with Dwight. But Bryant says he has spoken to the center somewhat recently.

“I spoke to him maybe a couple of weeks ago, just to check in with him, see what he was up to, see how his summer was going,” said Bryant. “But I haven’t spoken to him since. I know he’s got a big decision to make and I’m sure he’s going to make the visits and talk to the players from the teams that he’s considering. We’ll touch base with him a lot more.”

[Related: Kobe Bryant confronted Dwight Howard in team meeting]

The Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and Atlanta Hawks all are expected to pursue Howard in free agency. Houston reportedly believes they have a good shot of landing the center. Despite that, the Lakers can offer Dwight over $30 million more than any other team and therefore have a strong chance of retaining the big man.

What’s notable here is that despite all the fighting Bryant and Howard did during the season, Bryant’s opinion of Howard as a player has not changed. The question is, will Bryant’s words be enough to change the opinion of Lakers fans who grew tired of Howard during the season? Regardless, Kobe emphasizing Howard’s importance to the team should only increase the center’s chances of returning to LA.

Could Blake Griffin be traded to Los Angeles Lakers for Dwight Howard?

blake-griffinThe Los Angeles Lakers would like to re-sign Dwight Howard and build their franchise around him. The team has made that abundantly clear since the end of the season, but Howard has made it equally clear that he would like to explore all of his options first.

If LA is going to lose Howard in free agency, they might be best off working out a sign-and-trade involving the 27-year-old center. That way, Howard could get a max contract and the Lakers would get something in return. But does any team have the resources needed to pull off a deal of that magnitude? The Los Angeles Clippers might.

As talks remain ongoing between the Clippers and Boston Celtics for a potential deal that would send Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett to LA in exchange for DeAndre Jordan and draft picks, the Clippers have been hesitant to include point guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade. That does not mean they would not include Bledsoe and Blake Griffin in a potential swap for Howard.

“If the Clippers do indeed decide to formally offer Griffin and Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade package for Howard, indications are that it’s a proposal the Lakers will certainly not dismiss outright,” ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne reported over the weekend. “Blake Griffin is about as untouchable with the Clippers as you can be, but you have a chance to go after Dwight Howard with the idea of having Howard and Chris Paul along with Kevin Garnett and (possibly) Paul Pierce.”

Shelburne went on to say that it is “hard to believe” the Clippers would part ways with Griffin, but LA understands that it will have to talk big names if it wants to acquire a player like Howard.

Of course, there’s always a possibility that none of this happens and all of the aforementioned stars stay with their current teams. Doc Rivers may even have another career path in mind aside from basketball, so his situation remains up in the air. Still, the thought of Howard in a Clippers uniform and Griffin in a Lakers uniform is one that will make NBA fans’ heads spin.